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5 Natural ways to combat Hay fever

Hay fever is common in the UK as it affects around 1 in 5 people at some stage in their lives. The latest survey from Allergy UK shows that allergies including hay fever are currently on the rise with up to 30 -35 % of people being affected at some stage in their lives.
Hay fever symptoms or seasonal allergies usually occur from late March to October depending on the particular allergen we suffer from. Tree pollen is released during spring; grass pollen is released towards the end of spring and the beginning of summer while weed pollen is released in late autumn. Many can suffer from more than one type of pollen allergen, and may therefore suffer from hay fever for the whole season. During those particular months, the weather is warm, humid and windy and this is when pollen count is at its highest.
Symptoms occur due to a release of a chemical mediator known as ‘Histamine’ by the immune system in response to the substance or stimuli the body is allergic to. They may range from being a nuisance, to a real disruption during an otherwise normal day. Symptoms include but are not limited to:
• Sneezing
• Coughing
• Runny/Blocked nose
• Red/Watery /Itchy eyes
• Puffy eyes associated with a swelling of the nasal membrane (the membranes around the nose)
• Loss of Smell
• Pain around the Forehead
• Post Nasal Drip (caused by an excessive amount of mucus accumulated in the throat or back of the nose)
Supporting your body’s natural defences is important not simply during hay fever season but all year round. A healthy body is dependent on a strong immune system which is very much affected by a healthy gut and general lifestyle factors. It is also well researched that those who experience seasonal allergies are classified under the broad medical category of being ‘atopic’. In other words, they have a predisposition towards developing certain allergic hypersensitivity reactions.
The simple dietary and lifestyle measures listed below can support our sensitivity to allergens and similarly support our defences against flare ups from conditions like asthma or eczema

5 Natural Ways to combat Hay Fever

1. Fix your diet with Antioxidants
Fruits, herbs and vegetables are naturally high in antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Specific plant antioxidants like carotenoids, polyphenols and bioflavonoids are known to support the immune system. Latest research has also been focussing on the immune supporting benefits from another group of plant compounds referred to as ‘anthocyanins’. They provide a punchy red-purple colour to fruit and vegetables like elderberry, purple corn, purple cabbage, beetroot, pomegranate, purple potato or goji berries. They can be purchased whole and added to your dishes or some bought in concentrated powders that can be added to smoothies or your breakfast bowl. Spread your servings throughout the day with the aim of reaching a total of 10 servings.

2. Modify the Histamine production
Removing refined sugars from the diet may help, as research finds that refined sugars found in table sugar, cakes, candy and so on cause a blood sugar spike and can activate the release of histamine in the blood stream. Cut down on coffee, as caffeine also contributes to a release in histamine which can make your symptoms worst and cause skin irritations. Sugar is classified as an ‘immuno-suppressant’ so give time for your immune system to work properly by cutting those down. Watch out for fruits and dried fruits naturally high in sugar as well such as figs or prunes. Alcohol will also contribute to a blood sugar spike so keep that in mind.

3. Support your Digestive Health
Top up on those foods that support bacterial growth or contribute to it in a positive way. Fibre in the forms of wholegrains, legumes, oats, fruits and leafy greens. In addition to fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombu, wakame or nori. Avoid processed foods which knock our essential nutrients from our gut. Try out chicory which is naturally high in ‘inulin’, a prebiotic that is great for a healthy gut. A healthy gut will support a healthy immune system

4. Eliminate Stress
Stress zaps out our vitamin C levels whilst also impacting on our immune system and we all know that when we are then under attack from allergens, we will be too weak to fight back. Symptoms of hay fever or other allergies may then be worst or take forever to disappear. So make sure you sleep about 8 hours a day, choose stress reducing activities such as walking, pilates, or simply reading a book and find time to take care of yourself and be with your loved ones. When under less stress, the body can naturally better manage inflammatory reactions. Work out your balance between work and life and adjust where needed by being more efficient with your day.

5. Supplement
If you still struggle, supplement with a good B vitamin. B6 in particular helps to control the histamine production. Nettle herbal extract on a daily basis can also help to support our reaction to allergens. Zinc found in meat, seafood, nuts and seeds are found to help stop the production of histamine from specific cells in the body. Supplement if you still struggle with 10 to 15mg of zinc citrate daily. Chamomile is useful in reduced sore and itchy eyes, by soaking two pads of cotton wool in a chamomile infusion and place on the eyelids for about 10 minutes. Bromelain is a natural digestive enzyme found in pineapple and also found as supplements. It has shown to reduce breathing difficulties experienced and the inflammation in the airways by 85 % in clinical studies. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help to reduce the inflammation in the nasal passages and ease the symptoms. Last but not least, Vitamin C is also a potent immune-stimulant and anti-inflammatory supplement

Benefits of Green Tea

Green Tea is originated from China and is extensively cultivated in Asia and certain Central African countries. The tea has since become so popular in the western countries and is nearly classified as a super food. Why? Well it possesses a natural compound known as Catechins, found in high concentrations in several plant products

Catechins found in Green Tea are responsible for many of its incredible benefits

• Green tea contributes to oral hygiene in several ways. It contributes to a reduction in dental plaque and helps protect the teeth and gums with its content of fluoride and tannins.

• The consumption of green tea helps to support the body’s natural defences against oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Catechins have been found to help protect the health of female breasts and of our reproductive organs (ovaries, prostate).

• Catechins contribute to normalising cholesterol levels and help to maintain healthy heart function. This can help when consumed as part of healthy balanced lifestyle and varied diet.

• Green tea’s relationship with weight management has been cropping up in the news lately and there is a greater interest in its potential use! Of course, we cannot solely rely on this when attempting to lose weight. A change in lifestyle, nutrition and diet are also important. Catechins properties include fat metabolism (break down of fat cells) and a rise in metabolic rate (helping us to convert food consumed to energy at a higher rate instead of being accumulated in fat cells)

• Contribute to the healthy ageing of the skin. This is because Catechins help maintain intact cell DNA when exposed to UV sunlight. Green tea also showed other positive results on the skin. A randomised, twelve week study done on 60 participants, compared the daily consumption of a litre of Green Tea to placebo. In those who consumed the Green Tea, they found a decrease in volume, roughness and scaling of the skin but also an increase in skin hydration and skin density. Applying sun protection cream is still required though !

• Catechins in Green Tea are involved with the metabolism of glucose in the body. It is important for our blood glucose levels to remain stable for several health reasons. When they are too high, we can be at risk of suffering from diabetes or raised inflammation levels in the body. High inflammation levels can lead to changes in blood pressure and kidney health to name a few.

• Help protect the eyes from oxidative stress, caused by harmful radicals. Research shows that the components of the eye (retina, cornea, lens and other eye tissues) absorb the protective effects from Green Tea. Another study showed that Catechins protected against UV light, This suggests its important role besides other factors, in maintaining healthy eyes and vision.

You may benefit from the properties of Green Tea, through the consumption of the tea itself, but also through its extracts used in supplements.

References
Heinrich U et al. Green tea Polyphenols Provide Photoprotection, Increase Microcirculation, and Modulate Skin Properties of Women. J Nutr 2011; 141: 1202-8. doi: 10.3945/jn.110.136465

Sunshine in a bowl :Baby Pumpkin and Orange Puree for Halloween

Sunshine in a bowl for your baby ! Halloween is round the corner, so why not make a dish with the seasonal orange coloured vegetables and fruits, packed with B carotene and other nutrients you shouldn’t miss !

Puree

Ingredients

750g organic carrots, washed and diced (with the skin)
1 medium to large organic sweet potato peeled and diced(the smaller the better)
1/2 an orange (the juice)
1/2 a butternut squash or the equivalent in pumpkin/ winter squash, diced
1/2 pint of filtered water
1 chamomile teabag

Method: Take a pan of water, add the diced root vegetable and simmer; cook gently, and add the chamomile teabag; once starting to boil, simmer until the vegetables are soft enough but not mushy. Scoop out the vegetables and add a small portion of the juice; put into either a food processor or blender or puree to the desired texture. Place back in the pan with the rest of the liquid and gently warm again. Serve with half of a freshly squeezed orange juice.

Nutritional nugget
-Pumpkin makes a great baby food that’s loaded with vitamin A, C, E, and many other important nutrients
-Sweet potatoes are also a good source of dietary fibre, vitamin B6 and potassium . A very good source of vitamin A, C and manganese
-Squash is also a wonderful nutritious first food for you baby
-Chamomile is very relaxing and gentle on a baby’s tummy

You can use the pumpkin seeds for your own (adult) snacks or to top up your soups/salads, these are packed with fibre,mono-unsaturated fatty acids, protein and zinc amongst other vitamins and minerals.The latter of which we can be easily deficient of.

Look out for more mother and baby information and baby recipes in the near future.

Health concerns as we age

Ageing is an extremely complex, multifactorial process and there are many theories of its pathophysiology. It is a natural and gradual decline of our functional organ reserves to maintain the right balance, especially under conditions of stress (diet, lifestyle, medical history, family history, trauma, injuries, income, environment, and so on). It is believed that this loss of function can start as early as 30-40 years old, and decline at an annual rate of 1 %.

Particular concerns as we age and how to age gracefully while we support our health and wellbeing

  • Immune system: Natural decrease in our ability to fight disease .The immune system is directly linked to levels of inflammation in the body and as we age, our ability to turn off the natural inflammatory process is lost. When the body is subjected to poor lifestyle choices amongst other factors, the result is chronic inflammation. Over time this puts us at risk of developing atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes or alzheimer’s disease.
  • Endocrine system : Decline in thyroid function ,metabolism, energy levels, sex hormones and glucose tolerance. There is also a reduction in DHEA, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands from cholesterol. It stimulates and strengthens the immune system, aids dietary protein synthesis, helping the mood, optimum wellness and reducing food intolerances.DHEA also helps prevent osteoporosis.
  • Cardiovascular system : Thickening of arterial walls, decrease in  heart rate response to stress, and maximum heart rate. Our lifestyle, nutrition and weight as we age can further impact on the cardiovascular system.
  • Gastrointestinal system: Decrease in digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid levels which support the breakdown of proteins, Vit B12, decrease in our liver’s ability to clear toxins and metabolise drugs as easily. The health of the gut also impacts on the immune system.
  • Nervous system: Cognitive decline made worst with chronic stress and low mood.
  • Musculoskeletal system: The body increases its bone mass until the mid 30’s after which a gradual loss begins. Genes decide on the bone shape and size, but mechanical stress by muscle, body weight, and physical activity influence the bone shape and density , and health throughout life. Other factors which contribute to osteoporosis include smoking, medication such as HRT, inadequate intakes of calcium, magnesium, boron, activity of weight bearing exercises.

Research shows that our relationship with food also changes as we age. Changes in appetite, loss of interest in preparing meals, social aspect of eating, gastrointestinal disturbances and therefore avoiding certain crucial nutrients or reducing the absorption of particular nutrients; chewing difficulties or changes in financial stability leading to less focus on healthy eating.

 

Principles associated with longevity

  • Regular balanced meals to avoid fluctuations in blood glucose levels and the stress hormone, cortisol. Be gentle on your digestion by eating 5 small meals daily
  • Moderate intake of stimulants (caffeine, alcohol, tobacco smoke, stress, sugar )which impact on cortisol levels, oxidative stress on the body and affect our balance of nutrients
  • Anti-inflammatory diet which includes herbs such as curcumin, ginger, boswellia, and omega 3 essential fatty acids from safe cold-water fish (3-5 servings/ week) , nuts (other than peanuts)  and  their respective milks, seeds, butters and oils, avocadoes etc.. Cook with fats (coconut oil, small amounts of organic butter or even small amounts of animal fat seldomly) which are resistant to heat and are not prone to oxidation ( destructive to our cells).Reduce your use of vegetable oils including canola, safflower, sunflower and corn oils, because they are heavily processed and oxidise upon heat.

Healthy fats also increase your levels of DHEA, our youth hormone !

  • Eat a rainbow of colours and maximise on vegetables, for their content of fibre, vitamins and minerals, and phytochemicals packed with antioxidants. The latter are naturally occurring compounds with disease prevention properties .

 

  • Your fibre intake should be 30-40g daily which would support healthy gastrointestinal health

 

  • Phytochemicals : Green tea , Blueberries, Bilberries, Dark Chocolate, Resvetrol found in grapes , protect the health of our cells from oxidation, retards the ageing process of the skin and protects against sunlight .These fight off inflammation as well.

 

  • Protein (focus on fish and vegetarian sources of protein), and less processed food. Be always wary of the label content. Protein requirements increase slightly with age to 1.0 to 1.25kg/kg. Protein helps to boost collagen production and will help you to keep a youthful appearance

 

  • Remain hydrated, with an approximate consumption of 2L of water daily (including herbal teas or coconut water). Electrolyte imbalance and dehydration is more common as we age as well as our thirst perception

 

  • Antioxidants– help protect the ageing body from the harmful effects of so-called free radicals – a type of highly reactive molecule which can destroy cell walls and lead to diseases such as cancer.
    • Glutathione : a naturally occurring protein that protects every cell, tissue, organ from toxic free radicals and disease. Made primarily in the liver, It is one of the most important antioxidants in the body. Older cells contain 20 to 30 % less glutathione than young cells !
    • Boost your levels with milk thistle; sulphur amino acids (from proteins found in eggs, meat, legumes ) and the amino acid glutamate (ripe tomatoes, walnuts, fish, turkey, rabbit, oats, barley)
    • Vitamin C , Selenium
    • Lutein (healthy vision) (kale, spinach broccoli) and lycopene (tomatoes)
    • Carotenoids (yellow and orange fruit and vegetables)

 

  • Take regular exercise which suits your ability, age and interest. Thus increasing the production of the hormone DHEA, glutathione levels, endorphins .Weight bearing exercise also enables you to lay down as much bone as possible during growth and keep as much as you can later on, preventing conditions like osteoporosis

 

  • Intakes of calcium (cruciferous vegetables, sesame seeds, dairy products )and adequate vitamin D levels should be kept in check regularly.

 

  • Stress reduction measures on a daily basis may include meditation, breath work, bio-energetic exercises (qi gong or tai chi), yoga, pilates, spiritual practises, adequate amounts of sleep, (8-10hours daily

 

  • Strong family and community ties

 

  • Last but not least : Be happy!

Salmon, Lentils and Celeriac mash

I prepack my lunch on most days and made this last week in no time. I have missed a good green lentil dish and thought it would remind me of the flavours from home, since they form part of  traditional Mauritian cuisine.

Ingredients :

Green Lentils, 2 gloves of garlic, 1 medium onion,fresh thyme, 1 Celeriac, herbes de provence or other herbs of your choice, salmon, olive oil, salt and pepper, cayenne pepper

Method

Rinse your green Lentils and   boil them with just enough water to cover them. Once cooked, remove the excess water. Add coconut oil or olive oil to a pan, 2 cloves of garlic, an onion, and fresh thyme .I usually prefer adding my herbs last as this is how they retain the most nutrients. Season to taste. In Mauritius, they occasionally cook the lentils with bacon, and if that’s your wish to do so, then add a few pieces of good quality bacon with the herbs/onions/garlic combination after stripping off the fat.Keep those additions as a reward for eating well and leading a healthy lifestyle at least 80 % of your time and allowing yourself to have treats 15-20% of the time

While the lentils cook, strip the skin off the celeriac with a sharp knife) and cut into pieces, and steam or boil them until soft.Mash the celeriac and set aside. Cook the garlic for a few seconds in  a teaspoon of olive oil and toss the mashed celeriac with the garlic, herbes de provence and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.

The salmon was simply roasted in the oven with salt and pepper.

 

Nutritional INFO

Lentils are wonderful, free from gluten, full of dietary fibre, high in protein (26% of lentils calories are attributed to protein). Being free from gluten they give a break to your digestion especially if you eat them as part of a vegetarian meal, or accompanied with fish instead of animal based protein (since those require longer to be processed by the body). They help keep your blood sugar levels at bay, and therefore are ideal if you are diabetic or suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome  (PCOS) for example. The Fibre content helps to relieve constipation of course, but also other digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome.

Lentils for lunch are great since they sustain your hunger until the evening, giving your pancreas a rest since you won’t be snacking for a change. Good source of iron, hence help in  transporting oxygen throughout the body and is key to energy production and metabolism.

Low in calories with no fat, they can be used to manage your weight.

Celeriac root is my chosen vegetable as a side dish and gives it body and depth.It is far more nutritious and tasty than the standard potatoes and I have mostly enjoyed it  in  the past at restaurants. Be adventurous and use it in your dishes. It has a nutty, creamy and sweet flavour and is a lovely seasonal vegetable !Eating seasonally allows you to benefit from the nutrients to the maximum !Wonderful alternative to use as a mash for children but you can also opt for sweet potato instead. What else can it bring you ? manganese, vitamin K, phosphorous, vitamin B complex, dietary fibre, calcium, potassium , sodium and magnesium. It high in anti-oxidants and research has shown it may have beneficial effects against colon cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It is a diuretic ! just like it’s related vegetable, celery, and helps you to get rid of the excess water and can relieve muscle stiffness.Vitamin K,  helps to increase bone mass whereas the copper and phosphorus help in bone metabolism.

We can often be deficient in minerals because of the quality of the soil in which our vegetables grow, the medications that we take, or how we cook or combine our foods. Obtaining these minerals through organic/home grown/ or fresh vegetables definitely helps.. Celeriac has been found to be good for mental health, increasing blood flow to the brain and can be of use in conditions like Alzheimer’s, insomnia or stress.

The dish is complemented with  Salmon giving you a good dose of protein, omega 3, and brain boosting nutrients to keep our mind clear and focussed !

enjoy xxx